Cloud App Store Roundup: How Can The Channel Benefit?

Cloud App Store Roundup: How Can The Channel Benefit?

There's no denying the Apple iPhone has made a huge impact on the IT world. But possibly its biggest contribution to the channel is the iTunes App Store, which has inspired a new approach to selling and reselling cloud services. Major players like Google, Ingram Micro and Rackspace have launched their own application stores and SaaS search engines. But where does the channel fit in? Let's take a look.

A few of the services we're watching include:

Ingram Micro Cloud: When Ingram Micro Cloud launched in November 2010, MSPmentor (TalkinCloud's sister site) heard that the SaaS application store and discussion forum was a "natural extension" of the services Ingram offers its VAR and MSP partners. With developers like McAfee and infrastructure providers like GoGrid on board, it has a lot of potential to help channel partners select and activate SaaS applications for end-customers.

The big question we're still investigating: Can Ingram really hope to make a decent living directing VARs and MSPs to third-party SaaS applications? We don't have the answer to that question yet.

Rackspace AppMatcher: Like the competition, Rackspace boasts a catalog of SaaS applications. But it flips the model on its head by matching developers with customers and vice versa according to need, size and budget. It's a model that The VAR Guy (another TalkinCloud sister site) referred to as "online dating for SaaS developers." But will Rackspace provide a level playing field for all third-party SaaS applications? We're watching AppMatcher closely.

Google App Marketplace: On the one hand, the Google App Marketplace is a successful SaaS marketplace with any number of value-add solutions. On the other, the marketplace is only for Google Apps domains, and by extension, only for Google resellers.

The common thread here is that app stores, even SaaS app stores, are a double-edged sword: developers and platform providers get a huge boost in exposure by listing their services and products, but at the cost of putting their margins in the hands of the store's proprietor.

But for cloud integrators and managed service providers, the advantages are much more clear, with the capabilities for expanding portfolio by taking advantage of the expansive catalogs on display. But there's always the caveat of playing by each store's rules.

Apple's expanding their own efforts in the app store space with the Mac App Store, launching in early January 2011. It's focused on the desktop space, and TalkinCloud isn't sure how the Mac App Store will impact the SaaS world -- if at all. But rest assured, we're keeping watch.

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